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Notes from the barn

Notes from the barn

Big Moves Have Jones Eager to Join Stakes Action

You don't need stopwatches or tip sheets to tell how confident trainer Larry Jones feels after his stable stars worked earlier this week at Oaklawn Park. The important tool he was using Wednesday morning were hair clippers on his trusted pony Pal.

"We just got him back from his winter break and he needed a shave," said Jones.

Race is on at your library

Race is on at your library

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Some of Oaklawn Park's bigges names will be visiting the Garland County Library in Hot Springs, 1427 Malvern Avenue, throughout March. The race is on at the Garland County Library Tuesdays at noon! Registration is required.

 March 8:  Racing Literacy with Rolly Hoyt

March 15:  Meet the Trainers!  (You'll know the names!) 

March 29:  Track announcer Terry Wallace gives his side of the exciting time of horse racing!

For more information, please call the library at 501-623-4161.

Meanwhile, at Oaklawn...

Meanwhile, at Oaklawn...

Smoke It Right Fires Up 3-year-old Campaign in Mountain Valley

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Oaklawn) -- It's a long way from the bayous of southern Louisiana to Louisville, but owner/trainer Benard Chatters and Rand Metoyer are confidently stepping down that road with their 3-year-old colt Smoke It Right, who puts his perfect record on the line Saturday in the $60,000 Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The son of the 1997 Mountain Valley Stakes winner, Smoke Glacken, has won his three starts by a combined 24 1/4 lengths including the Lafayette Stakes at Evangeline Downs last September. Twice, chart-callers have described him as "much the best" in his victories, so the Kentucky-bred is in need of a challenge and the six-furlong race attempt this week is the first of those before heading into deeper waters.

"He makes me confident," said Chatters.

Notes from the barn

Notes from the barn

Billy Two Hats Could Climb Into Mountain Valley

HOT SPRINGS (OAKLAWN) -- Thunderhead Farms’ Billy Two Hats may have one of those hats thrown into the ring for Saturday’s $60,000 Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Coming off a resounding 6 ½-length maiden victory Feb. 19, the 3-year-old gelded son of Aragorn seems prepared to take on the contentious sprint race in just his third career start according to trainer Don Von Hemel.

“It’s one of the options in the mix,” said Von Hemel Wednesday morning after sending Billy Two Hats for a three-furlong blowout in :39 4/5. “He came out of his race in good shape, and if he’d won by a nose or a head, it might be different, but winning is everything and he did win really well.”

Billy Two Hats has relished training at Oaklawn since arriving at the start of this year. He debuted last August at Prairie Meadows with a second-place finish going just 5 ½ furlongs.

Notes from the barn at Oaklawn

Notes from the barn at Oaklawn

Hogue & Ruiz ‘Swarm’ Rainbow with Talent

With three runners making up a formidable entry, owner Richard Hogue and trainer Ed Ruiz are

prepared to inundate Saturday’s $50,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred colts and geldings, with division leader Heza Rainbow leading the charge.

All three competitors are homebreds with Heza Rainbow and Spanas Storm both by sire Storm and a Half and Codes Diamond by Super Code. The latter two are both maidens, but Heza Rainbow should draw support after winning his two starts last year including the $50,000 Razorback Futurity at Louisiana Downs last September.

“We figured we would swarm all over them in here,” joked Ruiz, a native of San Diego and a former assistant to top trainer Steve Asmussen.

Top finishers exit well; Rebel next

Top finishers exit well; Rebel next

Two days after a wild and rough running of the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, the top four finishers are doing well and their connections are making tentative plans for their 3-year-olds to join the next dance in the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 19.

Race winner Archarcharch is doing well for owner Bob Yagos and trainer Jinks Fires two days after emerging from a pack of horses to take the one-mile contest by a length over J P's Gusto. The 14-1 upsetter bounced back from a disappointing effort in the Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 17 with the victory. Monday's result surprised many, but not Fires.

"I never lost confidence in him after that last race," said Fires Wednesday morning. "The track was just so tiring that day and when he came back with a little filling in his hock, I knew if we could get that cleared up, he was going to be fine.

Archarcharch back in hunt after Southwest score

Archarcharch back in hunt after Southwest score

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Oaklawn) – Robert Yagos’ Archarcharch, the beaten favorite in the Jan. 17 Smarty Jones Stakes, reestablished himself as one of Oaklawn Park’s top 3-year-olds with his impressive victory in Monday’s $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), the second leg of the series leading up to the April 16 Arkansas Derby (G1). The William “Jinks” Fires trainee will now likely point toward the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19.

Gem Stable’s J P’s Gusto, the 6-5 favorite, finished second after encountering trouble, while Elite Alex, the 2-1second choice, finished willingly for third.